Last reviewed 15 July 2020

The Government has launched a new £5.2bn investment plan to tackle England’s on-going flooding problem, including improved access to affordable insurance for those at high risk.

Up to £170 million will be spent over the next 18 months to accelerate work on “shovel-ready” flood defences in 22 areas across the country, which the Government says will boost jobs and support the local economy as communities recover from the impact of coronavirus.

The plans also include a £200m “Innovation Resilience Programme” for sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions such as temporary or permanent water storage areas that will help manage droughts and also support wildlife. The measures will be introduced in 25 known risk areas across the UK to test and demonstrate how innovative actions can help adapt to a changing climate and improve resilience.

These plans are part of the Government’s National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy for England, set out by Environment Secretary George Eustice earlier this week. Announcing the Strategy, Eustice said: “The devastating impacts of last winter’s flooding were an important reminder of the need to continue to invest and accelerate action to reduce the impact of flooding on our communities.”

The Environment Agency is the lead body responsible for developing the £5.2bn strategy for England, which involves around 2000 new flood and coastal defences to improve protection for 336,000 properties, including homes, businesses, hospitals and schools in England by 2027. Other organisations, such as lead local flood authorities, district councils, internal drainage boards, highways authorities, and water and sewerage companies, will also be involved in delivering the strategy.

The Environment Agency estimates that for every £1 spent improving protection from flooding and coastal erosion, around £5 of property damages can be avoided. But the agency admits the plans will not eliminate the risk of flooding altogether. Flood Re, the re-insurance scheme that provides flood cover for those at the highest risk of flooding, will allow claimants to receive extra funding to improve resilience against future flooding.

Andy Bord, Chief Executive of Flood Re, said: “Flood Re enables access to affordable insurance for hundreds of thousands of homes at high risk of flooding. We believe it is very important that the country is built back better and making homes more resilient through the uptake of property flood resilience adaptations is a key part of addressing the increasing threat of flooding resulting from climate change.”

The Government says the new measures announced this week will give long-term reassurance to communities across the country, particularly in areas where families and businesses have had to make huge sacrifices to deal with coronavirus while still suffering from the consequences of last winter’s flooding.